Skip to navigation
Skip to sub-navigation
Skip to main content

Future Students | Current Students | Faculty/Staff | Alumni

Vanguard: News from the College of Human Environmental Sciences

Summer Welcome Through the Eyes of an HES Student

Posted: Jul. 24, 2019

By Sara Grahn-Nilsson
Junior, MU School of Social Work
HES Ambassador

Summer welcome is the first opportunity that students have to get a feel for what their four years at Mizzou will be like. It is most likely the first time they navigate campus, and a time for them to begin making their own decisions about what their futures will look like. I remember when I came to Summer Welcome in 2017, I had no idea what to expect. Neither of my parents attended college and being an only child meant that I had no siblings in college that could help guide me. I was also moving from a small town in California to Columbia, a city 8 times the size, in which I did not know a single person; you could say it was a big transition.

If I am honest, Summer Welcome was a blur. I was so busy, excited and nervous during those two days there was not much time for me to stop and smell the roses. However, a few moments stood out to me. I can clearly remember almost feeling star struck when my mom and I sat down with Victoria Shahan while she talked to us about what to expect during my first semester in college. It was so nice seeing a familiar face, and the same positive feelings I had when touring Mizzou suddenly greeted me again. I believe many students feel the same way when they come back for Summer Welcome. By then they have most likely already toured Mizzou, so they feel a bit more comfortable on campus. Students who attend our "Day in the Life" activity feel even more comfortable when they come back since they have met the advisors and some other students ahead of time.

To me, the part of the day that I was most excited about was getting my schedule. To say I am a planner would be an understatement. On my own, I had compiled a list of questions regarding my schedule and I am pretty sure my summer advisor, Alex Embree, was a bit shocked. While maybe not all students bring a list of questions with them, I think most students can relate to the excitement of creating their Fall semester schedules with their advisors. In my experience, when the student first sees their schedule, they have no idea what to do with all their new "free time," but after talking with them and brainstorming some productive and fun ways to use their time wisely, they seem to feel more confident with managing their time. Working with students one on one, especially during such an exciting and nerve-racking time, is some of the most rewarding work I have done. When I see the excitement on the new students' faces, I am reminded of how I felt and who I was when I came to Summer Welcome, and the incredible amount of growth both academically and personally that has taken place.

Looking back, I would have never thought that I would be in the position I am today. I am now fortunate enough to be an office assistant for advancement, summer advising assistant, TA, and a student ambassador for Social Work all in the College of HES. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I have made numerous connections while opportunities keep opening up for me, and I have learned to take advantage of as many of those opportunities as I can. Being a first generation, out-of-state student definitely has presented unique challenges, but with the immense support from my advisors, and the faculty here in HES, I have never doubted my ability to get accustomed to my new life here in Missouri and I have exceeded all the goals that I had for myself before attending Mizzou.

Caleb Lawlis (ArchSt) from Wentzville, MO, reviews the departmental requirements for his major with his parents while meeting in Gwynn Lounge.

MacKenzie Kowalski (NEP) from Chicago, IL, discusses course options with her parents.

Gwyn Jennings (SSW) from Fulton, MO (bottom right), and her mother, chat with HES student leader and peer advisor Sara Grahn-Nilsson.

Sara Grahn-Nilsson (right), assists Juliana Cole (ArchSt) St. Louis, MO, in selecting the classes for her Fall 2019 schedule.

Alex Embree, HES student services coordinator (center), and Sara Grahn-Nillson (top left), meet with several incoming HES students to plan their schedules for their upcoming semester at MU.